Indiana Jones is one of the most famous franchises in history, after all, it launched Harrison Ford as one of the biggest stars in cinema and consolidated Steven Spielberg in the group of greatest directors in history; in addition to the unforgettable soundtrack composed by John Williams.
With the arrival of the fifth film in the saga, Indiana Jones and the Relic of Destinythe production wanted a great action sequence to open the feature, as has happened with the other titles, such as the iconic scene of the giant ball chasing Indy at the beginning of Raiders of the Lost Ark. The problem is that Harrison Ford is already a gentleman in his 80s, and shooting big takes full of stunts and jumps is not the best idea at the moment.
That’s why the director of The Relic of Destiny, James Mangold (Logan/ Ford vs Ferrari) and the production team chose to use a technology capable of rejuvenating Ford’s face. In this article, the My Series explains how this works.
The AI that changes faces
The technology of rejuvenation (Re-age in English) is not something new in Hollywood. The resource has already been used in recent releases, such as in Captain Marvel when applying it to Samuel L. Jackson; or Robert De Niro in the feature The Irishman, by legendary filmmaker Martin Scorsese.
Robert De Niro was rejuvenated in a few years to play in The Irishman.Source: befores & afters / playback
However, Processes like this tend to be very expensive and time consuming. to be completed, as the special effects teams need to animate and colorize scene by scene in some cases. To solve this problem, Disney created its own technology: the Face Re-Aging Network (FRAN).
In a “similar” way to a deepfake, the FRAN uses an Artificial Intelligence trained through thousands of images of human faces to identify particularities between them. Machine learning techniques were also included in the process, making the tool understand which parts of the face age the most, such as the region that creates smile lines, and small bags under the eyes.
Diagram of image production with FRAN.Source: Disney/ playback
From a more technical point of view, we spoke with Luis Antônio da Costa, a doctoral student in Computer Science at Unisinos. Costa comments on the application of AI through an article published by Disney itself in 2022, and notes that, to carry out this process, developers need the image of the actor’s face and the age limit for aging or rejuvenating.
With the limits defined, two layers of convolutional neural networks and a blur filter are added to the image to remove skin imperfections. The process is repeated countless times until reaching the desired age. Finally, a color correction filter is added.
Table with aging of different faces, starting from 18 to 80 years.Source: Disney/ reproduction
Simplifying everything, artists enter an age they want to reach, and numerous filters begin to alter the original image of a face until that face gets younger or older. At the end of the process, some more filters are added to improve the actor’s lighting and color.
Indiana Jones: In Search of the Youngest Face
In the case of Indiana Jones, FRAN was used, but the team also used old footage of Harrison Ford from the 1980s. Ford, in addition to starring in Indiana Jones, had prominent roles in Star Wars as Han Solo. In an interview to empirethe actor said that even Disney used footage that was not used in any film to rejuvenate his face.
Harrison Ford in Raiders of the Lost Ark (top) and Relic of Doom (bottom).Source: My Series
“They have this AI program that can run through every movie that Lucasfilm owns. […] Because I’ve done a bunch of movies for them, and they’ve got all this footage, including movies that haven’t been printed,” explained Ford.
The actor also says that “they put some dots on my face, I say the words and they do”, signaling that facial motion capture technology was also used. This technique consists of placing several points along the actor’s body, so that all movements are transmitted to a computer with fidelity. In Ford’s case, his Facial expressions were used in the rejuvenation, enhancing the final result.
Finally, Harrison Ford says that the experience is interesting, but it was also a little scary. “This is the first time I’ve seen it and I believe it… I don’t think I want to know how it works, but it works. It doesn’t make me want to be young, by the way. I’m glad I earned my age.”
When will Indiana Jones 5 be released?
Indiana Jones returns for the fifth film in the franchise, featuring Harrison Ford again in the lead role in search of the Relic of Destiny, one of the most valuable artifacts on the planet, during the Space Race.
- Indiana Jones 5: everything we already know about the movie
The archaeologist will be helped by his goddaughter Helena, played by Phoebe Waller-Bridge (Fleabag), Body Holbrook (Logan), John Rhys-Davies (Raiders of the Lost Ark), and Antonio Banderas (Mask of Zorro); while Mads Mikkelsen (Hannibal/The Hunt) plays the villain. James Mangold directs the feature, which is executive produced by Steven Spielberg and George Lucas. John Williams returns to compose the soundtrack.
Indiana Jones and the Relic of Destiny is scheduled to premiere on June 30, 2023.